The Brno-based rock band Kulturní úderka (which translates loosely as "Culture Brigade"), led by singer and guitarist Štěpán Dokoupil, did not keep its fans waiting for too long this time. While there was a fifteen-year break between their first and second albums, the new album Black Metall was released less than two years after the previous album Sarajevská Katarzija (Sarajevo Catharsis). The name of the new album must be handled with care. Úderka has never had anything to do with black metal as a music genre. And once again, we are treated not to metal, but to relatively raw rock, which in some moments is pleasantly softened by the keyboard of Omer Blentič, or the trumpet of their guest artist Jan Kozelek.
Štěpán Dokoupil compares the three records of his group with these words: "Black Metall is the most varied – you can hear all our moods on it, but rock energy dominates. The previous recording, Sarajevská katarzija, is mainly an acoustic album, which was created after the long silence of the band during a week in the heart of Sarajevo. And Rock’s Groove is a debut album full of youthful energy and mindlessness.” Although we could end up somewhere here, let's try to describe the variedness of the new album in a little more detail – while leaving the “mindless” debut aside. Sarajevská katarzija was united in sound, but variegated at the same time. "It incorporates various genres that centre around blues and classic rock, but in reality you can hear almost everything on the album – grunge, blues ballad, electronic beats, folkrock, raw bigbeat and psychedelia," wrote the reviewer, also the author of this article. Black Metall is really even more variegated, but you may need to listen your way through the colours hidden under the "black metal" shell.
On superficial random listening, the "very sharp rock and roll" songs such as Crazy Woman, the straightforward House On A Side, the vigorous Misery or the punk to hardcore Saw And I Know It can make their way into the foreground. The second face of the third album of Kulturní úderka is represented by calmer songs, in which the above-mentioned keyboard instruments or trumpet stand out – such as the emotional Sky Is So High, in which even the vulgar "F-word" loses its sharp edges. The connecting bridge to the previous album is the song War-machine with strong chanted lyrics ("Hey, man, my name is Komansky and I'm both your friend and enemy...") and again with a trumpet.
The musical styles that Kulturní úderka bets on are actually all retro, whether we call them rock and roll, "honest bigbeat", bluesrock or alternative. Even the acknowledged rooting in the Brno alternative scene of the 1980s ("We keep the references to this scene to this day and this is reflected in both the lyrics and the music," says Dokoupil) is related to the past. On the other hand, Kulturní úderka is definitely not just a local band. Already on the last album there was an important reference to Sarajevo, where the album Sarajevská katarzija was also recorded. This time, the band is heading outside the hometown not only with some of the lyrics (English is a matter of course for Kulturní úderka), but also with the overall sound. By the way, no matter how the beat and mood of the songs change, the rhythm section composed of Daniel Prýgl (drums – with the exception of War-machine played by drummer Jakub Hrbata) and Mojmír Sabolovič (bass guitar) is still just as reliable from the beginning to the end of the album and actually holds the whole thing together.
A recommendation for those listeners who prefer story to energy, colour to rock black: Give the record a second and a third chance, it's worth it. Rock energy really predominates here, but it's not the same energy from start to finish. It is not boring in Brno. After all, the fact that the band had enough good songs available to make a record after such a short time, songs that they don't have to be ashamed of, testifies to the band's good condition. All the more so we can look forward to a sequel. Maybe again a little more acoustic, because Messrs. Dokoupil and company can push energy even into quiet songs.
Kulturní úderka – Black Metall, published by: Indies Scope 2020. 13 tracks (+ one bonus). Total time: 57:39